On Sunday afternoon, it was the New York Liberty vs. the Los Angeles Sparks, a rematch of the WNBA’s very first game on June 21, 1997. Some members of both teams, including the Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu, weren’t even born on that date. While they may not have been witnesses to history, they came ready to honor it. Just like that day 24 years ago, which was also in Los Angeles, the Liberty emerged victorious. The score of 76–73 showed that despite 29 turnovers, this team finds ways to win.
New York dropped two games to the Las Vegas Aces prior to traveling to Los Angeles. “This was a massive win today,” said Sami Whitcomb, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the win over Los Angeles. “After two really tough losses [both by more than 20 points], this was really a character-building game for us.
“We knew it was going to be about our will,” she added. “We knew LA was going to be tough; they were going to fight and they were going to make it really difficult for us, and they did. But I thought that we really just hung tough and stayed together when we could have fallen apart. To me, this really showed how tough we are. … I’m really proud of this group. I’m trying to be a leader for this group, and hopefully I was able to do that today.”
Yet again, Rebecca Allen came up with crucial defensive moves that helped clinch the game, including a defensive stop in the closing seconds. She was also the Liberty’s high scorer with 19 points. “It’s good when you get in that flow of the game, you see some go through the net and you have that good energy,” said Allen, who noted it was amazing to be celebrating the WNBA’s 25th year. “We’re continuing to grow this league and we’re showing what a great product it is.”
The road win over the Sparks marked the return of Ionescu, who missed several games due to ankle tendonitis. Coming off the bench, she played 20 minutes, delivering nine points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Betnijah Laney continues to be a decisive contributor with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Liberty returns home to Barclays Center this week for two games against the Chicago Sky. Tuesday night was a celebration on Juneteenth and tonight’s game celebrates Pride.